I think one of the major problems with English, and every other language, is that we have far too many “…ologies.” Sure, some of you are thinking: “What the heck is he talking about?”
And you know what, that’s a good point. …ologies have gotten out of control. They seem to be everywhere and we usually don’t have a clue as to what they are. Bottom line: As a society we have developed far too many.
Some, the easy ones, we know. Anthropology, for example, is the study of humans. Zoology is the study of animals. Biology is the study of life. Sociology is the study of society (Well, duh).
Although I try to avoid …ologies, even these common ones I have occasionally used in my columns. But come on. What the heck is otology, cetology, conchology, etiology, herpetology, hippology, pomology, nephology, phantomology and petrology.
First, what follows are my educated guess as to what they are. After that I will tell you what they really are. Read carefully, however. Some of my guesses may actually be correct.
Conchology is the study of conchs. The creature lives in a shell and resides mostly on the bottom of the ocean in vacation places. About this I am an expert since I have been to Freeport and the Bahamas, and have eaten conch soup, which I consider one of the most highly overrated dishes south of the United States.
Otology is the study of surprised expressions such as “Ohh, you mean its …tology.” (I know, that makes no sense but you try making a joke out of the word otology.)
Hippology is obviously the study of hippopotamuses, how they live, what they eat, how they mate. (Awkwardly, I suspect).
Apiology is the study of extremely small apes, usually in poorly funded laboratories that keep little apes and monkeys in small cages. The researchers who do this work should be forced to swap places, letting the apes and monkeys go and then taking their place in the cages for a minimum of six months.
Cetology actually has nothing to do with tennis, although the Latin for “cet” can also be spelled “set,” which might confuse people like Andy Roddick and other professional tennis players who never studied …ologies as much as they should have. Actually, cetology is the study of numbers that usually that come in pairs.
Herpetology is one …ology that, I suspect, many of you know. It is, as you probably deduced, the study of herbs and herblike plants that can be eaten without fear of poisoning.
Nephology is another relatively simple one. This is a family newspaper, however, and I refuse to compromise my morals by discussing it in this venue. If you really must know, get out your Webster’s.
Get ready for another easy one: petrology. It’s the student of petroleum in its different forms, as well as how it is created and where best to find it.
Pomology is a tougher one. An extremely narrow field, it studies the makeup of pomegranates and other fruits. Trust me on this.
Phantomology is just what it sounds like, the study of phantoms. I don’t believe in phantoms, so I have no clue as to why anyone would want to study that, except for the fact that they can get federal grants to study really, really important stuff.
So, now for the truth about each of these …ologies.
Conchology is the study of shells. (At least I told a half-truth)
Otology is the study of ears. (Never heard of it.)
Hippology is not the study of hippos but the study of horses.
Apiology is not the study of apes but the study of bees.
Herpetology is not the study of herbs but the study of reptiles.
Nephology is not what my dirty mind was thinking. In reality, it is the study of clouds. (What a cool job.)
Petrology is the study of rocks, not petroleum.
Pomology is actually the study of fruit, of which the under-valued pomegranate qualifies.
Phantomology is really the study of phantoms, or, more accurately, the study of supernatural beings.
So there you have it, today’s lesson in “…ologies.”
Next week: A frolic with “…isms.”